Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TOP STORY >> Gutsy newspaper goes after villains

Leader executive editor

A tenacious investigative reporter, a great editor and a courageous newspaper — Nick Davies working under Alan Rusbridger at the British Guardian — helped bring down the most powerful media company in the world: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, now exposed as a criminal enterprise, with several present and former employees facing prison sentences for hacking into cell phones and computers for more than a decade.

Murdoch, a villain right out of James Bond, bullied, blackmailed and bedded down politicians for favors going back to the 1970s.

Called the Dirty Digger most of his life, he is now a pariah everywhere. Murdoch’s former Conservative allies in Britain have come out against his takeover bid for BSkyB, a European satellite channel where he’s a minority stockholder.

His company’s stock is in a free fall — down more than $1 billion in a week. News Corp. could be headed for bankruptcy if thousands of its hacked victims — there are said to be some 4,000 — file huge claims against the company. Criminal and civil penalties could cost the company billions.

The Guardian doesn’t have one-tenth of one percent of News Corporation’s resources, yet Davies, Rusbridger and their staff have produced the most astonishing series of exposes since Watergate. Expect similar results: The mighty will go to prison, their names synonymous with evil. (Check out www.guardian.co.uk. It’s one of the best websites for news — a must read every day.)

Like Woodward and Bern-stein’s revelations of White House skulduggery nearly 40 years ago in the Washington Post, the Guardian has published its scoops about News Corp. lawbreaking for several months and encouraged Davies and his colleagues to keep digging.

The news gets more dramatic every day. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said yesterday that News Corp. hired known criminals. Murdoch’s papers stole Brown’s financial and medical records, including information about his young child’s chronic illness.

It was also reported that News Corp. employees in this country tried to hack into the phones of those killed on 9/11. The company owns Fox News and the New York Post, which tells you a lot about News Corporation’s journalistic standards.

News Corp. executives, the Guardian reported, lied under oath when they insisted only a couple of employees misbehaved.

But Davies, Rusbridger and the Guardian team revealed the truth: The highest officials at News Corp. authorized the hackings, including a former editor, Andy Coulson. He later became the chief spokesman for the embattled British Prime Minister David Cameron, who will probably not survive the scandal. Coulson was arrested last week. There will be others.

It was also revealed that News Corp. employees routinely bribed politicians and the police and then paid hush money to cover up their crimes.

The Guardian reported on July 4th that the News of the World hacked a young murder victim’s cell phone while the police were still looking for her, which made her parents think she was still alive since someone was checking her messages. This was the story that made all Britons realize that Murdoch and his goons were cruel and insane.

Politicians are no longer afraid of him. Even his family finds him an embarrassment.

As more revelations piled up last week—including the hacking of cell phones belonging to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq and the victims of a terrorist attack in London — News Corp. made a strategic retreat and announced it would kill off the News of the World.

More than 200 people lost their jobs to protect Murdoch and his toadies — including his son James, who has admitted paying hush money to hacking victims, and another top executive, Rebekkah Brooks, who could be indicted, along with Coulson and others.

Les Hinton, who heads Dow Jones, a News Corp. subsidiary that runs the Wall Street Journal, has also been implicated in the coverup in England.

More than 70 years ago, the Guardian led a crusade against another world-class villain — Adolf Hitler — while the Times of London, some 40 years before Murdoch bought it, editorialized in favor of appeasing the Nazis. The Times didn’t think it was worth fighting Hitler.

Murdoch would have seen business opportunities in Ger-many. He has business ties in China, where he has a prosperous satellite television channel, which forbids criticism of the communist regime.

In its last edition Sunday, the News of the World proclaimed in huge type on the top right of p. 1, “World’s greatest newspaper” — making stuff up to the end.

What does it profit a man…